CYA 2017 Highlights

The absolute highlight of the CYA conference for me was catching up with new and old writing friends, and seeing many of them successfully place in the competitions.  The absolute look of joy on their faces as they were rewarded for their efforts in working on their craft and then having the courage to submit their stories were priceless.  Four Write Linkers placed this year, Jacqui Halpin, Leslee Hewson, and Danielle Freeland and Rachelle Sadler(who placed twice).   A big congratulations to Jacqui for her first placing, and she had a placing last year as well.

The cheer from the Write Linkers as each of their writing buddies went up to accept their certificate was loud and joyous.  Another friend from the Rainforest Writing Retreat Georgina Ballantine, also received a first place in her category, and I was so, so happy we had a chance to chat during the morning tea break.  And a couple of SCWIBI friends did well in the competitions as well, Sandra Flett, and Sheryl Gwyther.

There is a good chance with 200 people I didn’t see half my friends that were at the conference, so apologies if we didn’t catch up or it was a quick passing wave.  There’s always a next time.

 

Another highlight of this conference is just how lovely Tina Clarke is.  She is always calm even though she has done so much work in the lead up and to keep a track of on the day.  She stops and chats, and never makes you feel stressed.

It is just so inspiring that she began this conference twelve years ago and has been able to assist so many writers to see an editor or publisher for the first time, and to learn through the various master classes how to improve their work.  Many people love the conference so much they just keep coming back.

 

Tina always acknowledges that this conference is supported by brilliant volunteers, many of them are writers, illustrators, teachers and they just love children’s literature.  This years red tshirt was just a great colour and here are some of those lovely volunteers (many of them dear friends).  They too, even though busy, had time to stop, smile and chat, as they went to their next task.  They kept people very calm going into their editors’ and agent appointments. They are experienced at just saying, ‘Make the most out of the constructive criticism you will receive in these meetings.’

 

I was so delighted to hear from the author of Helene’s current new book The Whirlpool Emily Larkin. Do check it out in book stores!  Helene and I ran into each other all day, and had lots of time to catch up.  This was slightly amazing as there were 200 delegates this year, the most ever, but still we found each other several times.  I think Peter Allert, the conference photographer has a picture of Helene and I together, so I will ask him for that later.

Helene and I don’t call each other creative sisters for nothing, but we also mingled with the rest of the conference goers.  But there is something about working together on Magic Fish Dreaming that will make that team forever special to me.  And we do have plans for future workshops and much more just because we like working together.

 

Okay so by the end of the day I was getting a little weary, after learning about trade versus educational publishing with Pamela Rushby, and  all things Social Media with Julia Ferracane, and listening to a fabulous talk by Michelle Worthington on the power, diversity and importance of picture books, and learning about Kindergo from Nadine Bates, that I began to have a conversation with Quigley, my dear little quoll.  ‘Quigley,’ I asked, ‘Do you want your own chapter book series?’  and ‘Who should star in this book with you?’

You know Jacqueline Harvey started with a picture book idea that became a series (Jacqueline’s opening session of total Question and Answer was just brilliant). Jacqueline, shared with us her own moments of joy and struggle on her writing journey.   One young member of the audience asked if she ever tired of writing about the same characters, and she answered ‘no.’  She strives to improve with every book.  She is always excited about writing the next one.  I wish I could have made the master class with Jacqueline!  Sometimes I wish conferences didn’t have parallel sessions, but I do understand why they do.  I  would have loved to go to the skype with Shaun Tan!

 

The other reason Quigley and I were having this conversation was because one of the editors I met with felt some of my ideas were chapter books, not picture books.  Hmm lots to think about.

I found the editors all gave constructive feedback,  and were friendly and encouraging, on how to improve my picture books and let me know which ones might have a better chance of being published.  I showed them Magic Fish Dreaming, and was so happy that they could see how professionally it was put together, and one editor encouraged me to write some of my picture books in the same style as Magic Fish Dreaming and maybe even make some of my picture book ideas into a collection of poems.

 

I love that one editor said, ‘Remember to follow your heart, and just take what you need from my advice and go for it, good luck. ‘ It was encouraging that they some were open to staying in touch and maybe receiving a submission despite the huge number they already receive.

The reality is that publishers receive so many more submissions than they are ever able to fully read, and as they are so busy working on books and with authors they already have, they usually read on weekends and in the evenings.  They had a really humorous and down to earth heart to heart with us at the end of the conference.  The take home message was research your publisher before submitting!  Know their back list. One editor said she doesn’t call is the ‘slush pile’, she calls it the ‘treasure trove.’  Another said, ‘Please spell my name correctly and don’t put glitter in the envelope!’

 

So that’s all from my experience of the CYA conference.

Now I will work on polishing my submissions and query letters and emailing them, and get together for coffee, with friends like Yvonne and Barbara.

Although writers and illustrators can often be solitary when in the process of creating there are many wonderful communities, like Write Links, Writing Centres, SCWIBI and online groups like Just Write For Kids, and courses through Children’s Book Academy etc. etc that between conferences can continue to nurture their talent.

Let’s Go Find the Women History Hides

Following the Crow Song

19060108_10211924738286748_4037967534773894514_nLast weekend Jackie French mesmerised and intrigued Booklinks members and the public by speaking about the women history hides to raise money for an upcoming Symposium on literature and writing centres.  This is my account of listening to her talk.

It was a shocking morning, hearing all about stabbings in London.  I could scarcely keep the tears from rolling down my face.  Oh what are we doing – humanity?  I wasn’t sure if I could leave the house, and if just a day of meditation and prayers, or a solitary walk in nature, might be the way to go.   That’s my sensitive poet’s heart; I am sure a lot of other’s people’s hearts were breaking too.

But I gave myself a stern talking to, Jackie French one of my all time favourite authors was in town, and was going to give a talk.  ‘Get on that bus June and go be with…

View original post 1,341 more words

Writing Group – First of Year

16463180_10210700857610496_8279307958270717130_o

I just love  my writing group.

I have been attending Write Links for three years now, and over that time, I have:

  • learnt more about the art and craft of picture book and middle grade writing
  • attended numerous professional development workshops with many established writers in the field
  • met the amazing Leigh Hobbs, whose characters my children and I grew up with
  • been on a writers’ retreat run by one of the members where I met John Marsden (who was doing a master class) and made friends with Robyn, Debbie, and many other writers
  • attended the CYA conference
  • pitched to an agent and a publisher at the CYA conference
  • made a successful ASA mentorship scholarship application and been being mentored for the last 12 months.

And those are just some of the highlights!

But one of the biggest things I love about my writing group has been the creation of some friendships that sustain me in the hours of writing.  I think of writer friends: Jocelyn, Ayesha, Ali, Jillanne, Yvonne,  Shannon, Sam, Rachelle,  Charmaine, Andrew, and Jacqui;  imagining and day dreaming,  drafting, researching, editing, writing, submitting and succeeding, submitting and being rejected, and because they just have so much passion for writing doing it all over again.

16473136_10210700856650472_4604822018590621453_n

Before and after the sessions today we were able to have a chat not only about how our creative endeavours are going, but also about life itself,  how it inspires and sometimes challenges the creative journey.

There was so much positive energy, and there’s often some great news of breakthroughs by our members.

This group of people were so supportive of Magic Fish Dreaming, and just gave me so much confidence that I could achieve my dream to have my book produced and out there.  My first supporter in the kickstarter was a Write Links member, and many, many members gave their sincere support.  Everyone is honest and I know they would not have done this if they didn’t have confidence in the book.  These are not only friendships I respect, but many are professionals, and have been traditionally published.

An unexpected treat of Saturday was a writer friend from Cairns, just happening to be passing by with her son.  Lovely to see you Carol.  The Cairns writers’ group run a fabulous festival that occurs every two year, and that I have attended twice, and they also published my poem, ‘Grumpy Fisherman’, (which became the centre piece of ‘Magic Fish Dreaming’ in my children’s poetry book) in one of their writing anthologies.  It was so fantastic to say a brief hello.  Carol could feel the warmth and energy of Write Links, and they in turn could sense I was seeing a significant fellow creative from my old home!

16473053_10210699893226387_367152167423279879_n

I especially love chatting with dear friend Ayesha.  We both share a love of music, and poetic language.  Ayesha and I are thinking of having sing a longs between writing group meetings, and discussed mindful singing.  She showed me a book she thought I would like reding.

Music sustains me when I am having a challenging day writing, or in life.   It is great to have other common interests with my creative friends, and I am so looking forward to reading the draft of Ayesha’s novel and seeing it in print!

I love the way we believe in the value of each other’s work and keep encouraging and supporting.

16425901_10210699922947130_4682919346380800557_n

The generosity of members to share their knowledge is legendary.  At Saturday’s session Karen Tyrell  (long time member and empowerment author) and Luise Manning, both shared their knowledge on the grant application process at our first meeting of the year.

16487693_10210700847170235_3705549460296035402_o

Anyway that’s  my account of the first meeting for Write Links of the year.  Only another month to wait for the next one, or should I say to write and read my way to the next one.

A big welcome to all the new members;  here’s to a great year for all wherever you are in your writing journey.

James Moloney: Writing a Series

Ali’s write up of the James Moloney workshop many of the writelinkers and other young adult authors of Brisbane recently attended.

Spilling Ink

JamesMoloneyPhotoBy_Yvonne_Mes

With fifty books to his credit, Aussie kidlit author James Moloney has plenty of wisdom to share about writing a book series.

Screen Shot 2016-05-08 at 10.27.34 amHis first series was The Book of Lies. Because it was originally written as a stand alone, he learned what not to do for future series.

Here’s the Goodreads blurb for the book (How good does this sound?)

The newest boy at Mrs. Timmins’s Home for Orphans and Foundlings awakes at first light with no name and no memory. But a strange girl who hides among the shadows of the orphanage tells him that a mysterious wizard’s creation, the Book of Lies, holds the answers, and then gives him one clue: “Your name is Marcel.”

The Book of Lies trilogy was followed by the Silvermay Series and the Doomsday Rats, with numerous other books and collections all around. [Buy James’s books here]

    Screen Shot 2016-05-08 at 10.28.23 am      

View original post 498 more words

Harry Helps Grandpa – Approaching Alzheimer’s in a Picture Book

Harry-HeaderEDIT
Karen pictured with the book

Karen Tyrrell is an award winning Brisbane based, ‘resilience ‘author, who publishes on this theme for both children and adults.   Her earlier books, like Stop the Bully,  have dealt with themes like bullying and mental health.  Harry Helps Grandpa Remember marks a slight change in direction,  in tackling the realities of dementia and their impact on family, although it still has at its heart the theme of empowerment and emotional resilience.  

Harry is about the special love between a little boy and his grandpa who has Alzheimer’s. Harry will do ANYTHING to help his grandpa remember . . .

1. June: Why do you think picture books on this topic are important?

Karen: One in six people are affected by dementia, Alzheimer’s and memory loss. These stats are on the sharp incline. Children are affected by their grandparents and loved-ones affliction and need to understand the disease and how their grandparents still love them. Picture books are the perfect way to teach children coping skills for memory loss.

2. June: What does your book offer that isn’t in other books already out there?

Karen: Harry Helps Grandpa Remember is written from the children’s point of view, as a problem solving, problem verses solution challenge. Harry gently shows the realities of dementia at the same time encourages children to take an active role in their grandparent’s lives. Harry Helps Grandpa Remember teaches memory boosting skills and coping skills for the child and for the one affected.

3. June: I’ve heard about your pantomime of the book. Why did you launch it with a bit of play acting?

Dementia is a difficult subject to present to children. An interactive, multi-media pantomime displaying humour, strong emotions and a sense of fun communicates the deep messages of dementia awareness, coping skills and most of all, love. The pantomime and the actual story Harry Helps Grandpa Remember spring-boards in-depth discussion.

harrysmall
Scene from the Pantomime  at one of the local launches.

4.  June: Who was involved?

Karen: Actually our writer’s group, Write Links played most of the key parts. The lead role of Harry was played by Anthony Puttee, who played Bailey in Bailey Beats the Blah, a book about lifting a child’s mood.

5.  June: As a hybrid publisher (seeking traditional publishing options but also self publishing) myself I am interested in how you found your designer and editor.

Karen: My designer, Anthony Puttee designed the cover for Harry Helps Grandpa Remember and formatted the pages too. My editor, Penny Springthorpe is an ex-Penguin editor. I worked collaboratively with her, developing the characters and the story line to the highest possible standard. Both Penny and Anthony work for Book Cover Café, who act as my publishing advisers for my imprint Digital Future Press. I’ve worked with Book Cover Café since my very first resilience book, Me and Her: A Memoir of Madness.

6.  June: What did you most like about working with them?

Karen: I loved working with all the staff of Book Cover Café in a collaborative way, bouncing ideas off each other. I independently sub-contacted illustrator Aaron Pocock to create full colour illustrations. Penny, Anthony and Aaron are all incredibly talented and creative. They’re all perfectionists too, demanding their own work is completed to the highest publishing standard.

9780987274083 (3)

Harry Helps Grandpa Remember  is now on Amazon world-wide as a print Book and as an eBook.  You can also find it in many local Brisbane book stores.

ISBN: 9780987274083

Blog Tour Book Giveaway

Please leave a comment on any of the visiting sites or a chance to win a signed print copy or 5 eCopies of Harry Helps Grandpa Remember. 6 Copies to be won. 6 Winners announced 3 July.

Next Stop

The next and final stop in the blog tour is  1 July Dimity Review http://dimswritestuff.blogspot.com.au/

You can still also retrace the tour and make comments on earlier visiting sites.